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The Marcellus Shale, Explained

Background

Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock buried thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. It stretches from upstate New York south through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and west to parts of Ohio. Named after a town in upstate New York, the rock itself is millions of years old, formed from mud and organic material. The natural gas created over millions of years as a byproduct of decomposition is trapped in tiny spaces and fissures within the rock. The Marcellus Shale is just one of many shale formations across the world. When industry speaks of tapping shale gas, it often refers to it as a “shale play.” The Marcellus is one of the first shale plays to be tapped, after the Barnett Shale formation in Texas.

Latest Posts

Study: Lower than expected air pollutants detected at Marcellus drilling sites

An article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, published today, says measurements of air pollution from Marcellus drilling and transportation sites in Bradford and Sullivan counties were lower than the researchers expected. The study, “Atmosphere Emission Characterization of Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Development Sites,” also reports levels of methane emissions were higher than those indicated [...]

Case challenges township’s right to change zoning in favor of gas development

Local rights to zone for oil and gas development in Pennsylvania are being tested by a Butler County case in which plaintiffs claim a township has acted unconstitutionally by failing to protect residents from the effects of a sharp increase in industrial activity. Middlesex Township, about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh, approved an ordinance in August [...]

Energy industry invests in Philly mayor’s race

Since Marcellus Shale development boomed, Philadelphia has been a thorn in the side of the gas industry. The city has not seen many of the economic benefits that places like Williamsport, or Pittsburgh have. And it tends to be home to well-organized, experienced environmental groups used to taking on powerful adversaries. When the industry invited [...]

FERC rejects environmentalists appeal on Cove Point LNG exports

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied a request by several environmental groups to halt construction on Dominion Energy’s Cove Point LNG export terminal in Lusby, MD and conduct a more thorough environmental review. Environmentalists have been fighting the conversion of the mothballed import terminal into an import/export facility, saying FERC should consider the environmental [...]

New study links gas drilling to water contamination in NE Pa.

New research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows evidence of a connection between gas drilling and water contamination that occurred in Bradford County in 2010. The researchers used a new method of testing for contaminants that can detect much smaller amounts of chemicals than the instruments typically used in commercial [...]

Gas industry’s campaign donations rose 47% in 2013-14, report says

Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry donated 47% more to state political campaigns in 2013-14 than it did two years earlier in an effort to weaken regulations and minimize taxation, according to a new report from Common Cause Pennsylvania. The liberal advocacy organization issued an updated report on Thursday, showing that the industry spent $2.8 million on [...]

Shale gas opponents shout down industry speaker at Philadelphia LNG session

Anti-fracking protestors late Thursday disrupted a public information session on the possibility of building a liquefied natural gas export terminal in Philadelphia, shouting down speakers from the industry and finally being ejected by security officers. About half a dozen protestors repeatedly interrupted an opening presentation at Drexel University by Jason French, Director of Government and [...]

Gas industry urges U.S. to speed approval of LNG export terminals

The natural gas industry’s leading trade group on Thursday stepped up pressure on the federal government to approve plans for liquefied natural gas export terminals, issuing a white paper which argues that the U.S. risks missing an opportunity to dominate the global market unless it acts quickly. America’s Natural Gas Alliance said the U.S. could [...]

In New Jersey, open space sacrificed for cheaper natural gas

Open space is a rare commodity in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country. The New Jersey Conservation Foundation says a proposed natural gas pipeline could cut through about 4,500 acres of undeveloped land preserved with public dollars. If built, backers of the PennEast pipeline say it would feed cleaner fuel to [...]

NPR: In Pa. gas industry jobs boom despite nationwide oil and gas bust

Oil and gas workers are facing unemployment in the country’s big oil producing states like Texas. But NPR’s energy reporter Jeff Brady took a trip to a shale gas training center in Williamsport and finds students optimistic about their future job prospects. The governor’s chief of staff, Katie McGinty, tells Brady that Pennsylvanians should be seeing [...]

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